Homily for October 27th, 2016: Ephesians 6:10-20.
“Pray at every opportunity in the Spirit,” Paul writes in our first reading. He says the same, even more strongly, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, when he writes: “Pray without ceasing” (5:17). Is that realistic? Taken literally, it is not. There are many daily activities which require our full attention. We cannot be thinking of God consciously at every waking moment of our lives.
We can pray to God “at every opportunity,” however. And the opportunities for doing so are far more frequent than we mostly suppose. In every life there are, each day, empty times when we can recall God’s presence and turn to him with an upward glance of the heart, a thought, or a word of prayer. There are many times each day when we must wait: in line at the post office or bank, at the supermarket, at the doctor, in traffic – and when we walk to or from our cars. Why not turn these empty times into times for prayer? Short prayers or phrases are best: “Jesus, help me;” “Thank you, Lord;” “Lord, have mercy.” Or simply the Holy Names, “Jesus, Mary, Joseph” – or the name of Jesus alone – repeated with every step, every breath, or every heartbeat. These are perfect prayers which take us straight into presence of Him who loves us more than we can ever imagine, and who is close to us always, even when we stray far from Him.
As a 21-year-old seminarian I resolved to turn to the Lord God whenever I went up or downstairs – something I would be doing all my life, I reflected, until I got old and was felled by a stroke – when I could continue this practice in elevators. I’ve been working on this now for 67 years. I could never tell you how much it has helped me and how much joy it has put into my heart.
Why not do something like this yourself? Find the empty times in your own life. Use them to turn inwardly to God. Each time you do so, you will find that he is there, waiting for you.